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Spartans Return Home to Face Northwestern on Thursday Night

Jan. 7, 2009

Michigan State Spartans (9-6, 2-2) vs.
Northwestern Wildcats (5-10, 1-3)

Date: Thursday, Jan. 8
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: East Lansing, Mich.
Arena: Breslin Center
TV: none
Radio: WVFN 730 AM (Rick Berkey - play-by-play)
Internet: Live Stats and Audio at; Live video at

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Head Coach Suzy Merchant | Lauren Aitch | Lykendra Johnson

Statistically Savvy (Big Ten Edition)
Michigan State is among the Big Ten leaders in almost every statistical category. The Spartans are first in field goal percentage defense (34.2%), rebounds (44.3), rebound margin (+10.1), offensive rebounds (15.67), defensive rebounds (28.60) and blocked shots (6.27). They are also second in 3-point field goal defense (28.2%), rebounds allowed (34.1) and assists (15.73), and third in scoring offense (69.3), scoring defense (57.5) and scoring margin (+11.8).



Junior Allyssa DeHaan is first in the Big Ten in blocks with 3.60. Also in the conference's top-10 is redshirt junior Lauren Aitch (fourth in field goal percentage - 52.7%), junior Mandy Piechowski (sixth in 3-point field goal percentage - 41.0%), sophomore Kalisha Keane (eighth with 2.07 steals per game), redshirt junior Aisha Jefferson (ninth in points - 12.9) and sophomore Brittney Thomas (ninth with 3.31 assists).

Stepping It Up in Conference Play
Junior Allyssa DeHaan has improved her numbers in Big Ten play, averaging close to a double-double with 11.5 points and 9.8 rebounds. Her rebounds are second in the Big Ten in conference games, while her points are 14th. DeHaan is also tied for second with 2.75 blocks per game. Meanwhile, sophomore Brittney Thomas is tied for third with 4.5 assists per game and redshirt junior Lauren Aitch is third in field goal percentage (60.7%).

Statistically Savvy (NCAA Edition)
Entering the week, the Spartans were among the nation's top-50 in five major statistical categories, including being in the top 25 in three. MSU was seventh in blocked shots (6.3), 10th in rebound margin (+10.1) and 17th in field goal percentage defense (34.2%). In addition, the Spartans are 41st in assists (15.7) and 50th in scoring margin (+11.8).

Individually, junior Allyssa DeHaan is fourth in the country in blocked shots with 3.6 per game.

On this Date
Michigan State is 5-4 all-time on January 8.

Keys to MSU Success
As we pass the midpoint of the 2008-09 season, certain statistical trends have arisen in regard to MSU wins and losses:
- Michigan State is 8-0 when its opponent have been held to 60 points or less and below 31% from the field.
- MSU is 8-1 when it grabs more than 40 rebounds and also 8-1 when it has a plus-5 or better rebound margin.
- The Spartans are 6-1 when they shoot over 43% from the field.
- MSU is 6-0 when it goes to the free throw line more than 20 times and is 6-1 when it attempts more than the opposition.
- The Spartans are 8-1 when they have a higher 3-point field goal percentage and 6-0 when they make more 3-pointers.
- Michigan State is 6-1 when they score more than 70 points.
- MSU is 8-1 when they create more points off turnovers.
- The Spartans are 8-0 when leading at halftime.

Spartans' Dynamic Duo
In their one-plus year on the court together, the Spartans know good things will happen when redshirt junior Aisha Jefferson and Allyssa DeHaan are both playing well. When both score in double-figures, MSU holds a 15-1 record, including a 5-0 mark so far this season.

DeHaan's scoring has shown to be a deciding factor in most Spartan games. When she reaches double-digits, Michigan State is 7-0 this season and are 43-14 in her career. Also, when she leads the team in scoring, MSU is 27-4, including a 4-0 record this season. Meanwhile, MSU is 25-11 when Jefferson tallies double-figures, including a 6-4 mark in 2008-09.

Crashing the Glass
Michigan State has been dominant on the offensive boards this season. The Spartans lead the Big Ten with 15.7 offensive rebounds a game and have grabbed 43.4% of the possible rebounds in the offensive zone (Ohio State is second at 38.9%). Over the last two games, MSU is averaging 19.5 offensive rebounds per game and have grabbed 47.6% of the offensive rebound opportunities.

By contrast, the Spartans have allowed only 13.6 offensive rebounds per game and have allowed the opposition to grab only 32.3% of their possible offensive rebounds.

Spartan Efficiency Per 40 Minutes
The depth of Michigan State so far this season has limited the minutes of its top players, and in turn, lessened their overall production in regard to the Big Ten leaders. Only Aisha Jefferson (ninth in scoring) and Allyssa DeHaan (11th in rebounding) are among the conference's top-15. However, when you calculate the production per 40 minutes (with those who have played at least 15.0 minutes per game), four Spartans are in the top-15 in scoring and three are on the top-15 rebounding list.

Jefferson is third in scoring averaging 22.2 points per 40 minutes (trailing only Ohio State's Jantel Lavender - 26.8 and Penn State's Tyra Grant - 24.6). Also, classmate Lauren Aitch is sixth at 20.5, freshman Courtney Schiffauer is 13th at 16.3 and DeHaan is 15th at 16.0. In regard to rebounding, redshirt freshman Lykendra Johnson is fifth with 11.8 boards per 40 minutes, while DeHaan is eighth at 11.4 and Aitch is 15th at 10.3.

Holding Down the Opposition (First Half Edition)
The Spartans have been especially stingy in the first half of each game this season. Their opponents have combined for only 389 points (25.9 per game).

MSU allowed only 12 points in the first half against Delaware State on Dec. 18 and 13 points to Detroit on Nov. 19. The 12 points against the Lady Hornets tied the previous school record for a first half, set on Jan. 16, 2003 against Indiana.

Welcome Back
Sophomore Brittney Thomas returned to the rotation in the game against Detroit (Nov. 19), after missing the first two games with a broken right hand. Since she has been back, her impact on the floor has been noticeable. With Thomas on the court, the Spartans have outscored their opponents by 91 points (651-560), but when she is sitting, MSU has trailed by 11 points (199-210).

DeHaan Reaches Milestone...
Junior Allyssa DeHaan became the program's 19th 1,000-point scorer with a basket with 14:48 left in the second half against Quinnipiac. DeHaan has moved into 15th on the program's all-time scoring list with 1,092 points. She also was the fifth fastest to the milestone, needing only 75 games (Mary Kay Itnyre - 65 games, Kris Emerson - 72, Lindsay Bowen - 73, Kisha Kelley - 74).

...And Approaches Another
Already the school's all-time block leader, DeHaan is only 35 blocks shy of the Big Ten career mark. She is currently third all-time with 349, trailing only Ohio State's Jessica Davenport (384) and Michigan's Trish Andrew (367). With her four blocks against Stony Brook (Nov. 16), she became the fastest in conference history to reach the 300-block plateau, needing only 72 games. Nationally, DeHaan is 131 blocks shy of the NCAA record.

Let's Play More Time
The Spartans have relished playing extra time over the past six seasons. MSU is currently riding a 10-game winning streak in overtime games, dating back to the 2003-04 season. Surprisingly, only two of the 10 wins have come at home. This season, the Spartans have knocked off Dartmouth at the TD Banknorth Classic and Purdue in West Lafayette.

New Heights
Michigan State currently have seven players in the regular rotation at or over 6-foot, including four in the starting lineup at times. This size and length has paid dividends this season, as the Spartans hold a 500-316 edge in points in the paint, a 664-512 edge in rebounding and have 94 blocks. MSU leads the Big Ten in both rebound margin and blocks. Those seven players have combined for 798 of the team's 1039 points (76.8%).

Defense in the Post
The Michigan State post defenders have done a solid job of late, keeping the opposition below its season averages. The starting post players have been held below their combined season scoring averages in 10 of the last 12 games. Most notably, All-America candidate Ta'Shia Phillips of Xavier (14.2 ppg) was held to eight points on 3-of-11 shooting, Old Dominion's combo of Jessica Canady and Tiffany Green (32.3 ppg) managed only 19 points, and most recently, the Indiana pair of Amber Jackson and Whitney Thomas (28.7 ppg) tallied 19 points. For the season, the starting post players have combined to average only 14.9 points per game against the Spartans.

Breslin Celebrates No. 20
The 2008-09 basketball season will be the Spartans' 20th inside the Jack Breslin Student Events Center. MSU has an all-time record of 192-73 (.725) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, posting a mark of 57-10 since 2003, including a perfect 5-1 record this season.

Fans Continue to Pack the Breslin
For the past four seasons, Michigan State has been one of the top programs in the country in regard to fan support. In the four seasons leading into 2008-09, the Spartans were among the nation's top 15, averaging over 6,000 fans per game. MSU was ninth in the country in 2006-07, averaging 6,737, while they were 10th in both 2005-06, with a school-record 6,787 average, and last season (6,317).

In the early stages of 2008-09, the Spartans are fourth in the Big Ten, averaging 4,890 fans through six games.

RPI Watch
The Spartans currently have a RPI of 65 according to, with the Big Ten Conference ranking fourth in the nation as a whole. MSU is eighth in the conference, trailing Ohio State (7), Wisconsin (17), Indiana (18), Michigan (25), Iowa (29), Purdue (38) and Minnesota (44). Michigan State's strength of schedule is 40th.

About Northwestern
Northwestern comes to the Breslin Center having won its first Big Ten game of the season on Sunday against Wisconsin, 49-46. The Wildcats are now 5-10 overall and 1-3 in conference play. They have yet to win a road contest, dropping all six opportunities, including two in league action.

The Wildcats are averaging only 60.1 points per game, while allowing a Big Ten high 63.1 points. Northwestern is third in the conference, shooting 43.6%, but have given up a league worst 40.9% clip to the opposition. On the board, they have held their opponent to only 34.9 rebounds per game, good for third in the Big Ten, but have been able to grab only 32.8 per game, which is 10th. Like the Spartans, the Wildcats have had troubles with the turning the ball over, averaging 19.2 per outing.

Sophomore center Amy Jaeschke has led the Wildcats this season, averaging 16.9 points (fourth in the Big Ten), 9.6 rebounds (third) and 3.0 blocks (second), while shooting 50.2% from the field (fifth) and playing 36.5 minutes (second). Kristin Cartwright and Meshia Reed are also close to double-figures, averaging 9.6 and 9.2 points per game, respectively. Jenny Eckhart is seventh in the Big Ten with 3.6 assists per game, while Erin Dickerson is second, knocking down 51.1% (24-of-47) of her attempts from behind the arc.

Against the Wildcats
Michigan State leads the all-time series 30-22. The Spartans have won nine-straight over the Wildcats and 19 of the last 21 meetings. During the nine-game winning streak, the average margin of victory is 21.8 points per game. In East Lansing, MSU is 18-6 and have won 12 in a row, with the last Northwestern win coming on March 5, 1993.

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